“Two Great Tastes That Go Great Together…”

1One of the easiest tasks in the world of marketing is to take two separate components that are equally endearing on their own merits and put them together to create something new that everyone is sure to adore. Case in point is an old commercial from a time gone by when colors were a lot less vivid and collars had a wingspan; in a place where two hip cats are walking along the sidewalks of Anytown, USA, each with their own special eating disorder. Our male specimen is indulging himself in the luscious goodness of a milk chocolate candy bar; and who can blame him. While the attractive but slightly more perturbing female is gorging herself on the gooey contents of an entire jar of peanut butter. While I, myself, do actually enjoy a healthy dose of peanut butter from time to time, I can’t even comprehend what mental instabilities might cause someone to feel that consuming an entire jar of Skippy while in public view is even remotely acceptable. Whether due to their obvious personal afflictions or their headphones masking their surroundings, the cute couple collide in a calamity that had us all licking our collective chops. Clearly, the folks at Reese have had little trouble convincing viewers that combining two such goodies into one delightful consumable cup is a no-brainer and guaranteed to please anyone who finds themselves a fan of either part of the tasty equation.

Winning combinations don’t even have to be the product of calculated marketing. Take, for example, ham & cheese sandwiches or turkey & dressing. Sometimes the chemistry between two individual things is so undeniable that they virtually become paired more predominantly than they appear separately.

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In 1970, while American Motors was looking to assume the Jeep product line from Kaiser-Jeep, designers made such a calculated conglomeration in hopes that America would be dazzled by the possibility of blending the vastly-popular muscle car with the off-road sensibilities of the prized short wheelbase CJ5. A medley that may have proved to be more a potential inspiration for the upcoming AMC Pacer than the newest automotive talk-of –the-town they had hoped for. While most concept cars aim to deliver something to the consumer that is highly desirable yet currently less than common, the Jeep XJ-001 seemed to strike a chord of confusion in the potential marketplace. Since there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these individual pieces, the sum of their parts must certainly be above reproach, or at least in this case, just beyond our scope of comprehension. Exactly what is it that we should do with this really fast, really short car with no roof or doors that has limited agility and handles pretty poorly? Nothing pleasurable seems to come to mind…

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The Jeep XJ001 was clearly by appearance built on the CJ’s tiny 81-inch wheelbase but that’s where the similarities seemed to cease. Even the swooping door openings look more akin to a carnival bumper car than any Jeep of memory. When the new Jeep prototype was revealed at the New York Auto Show in July of 1970, the crowds seemed to eat it up, albeit in very small portions. Maybe not as ravenous a reception as though they were treated to a luscious peanut butter cup, but response was certainly deemed better than unfavorable, certainly in comparison to the other show floor spectacles of the day. Like the new Ford/Mercury Capri or the all-enthralling “Seat Belts Save Lives” display held in the lobby.

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While the prospective Jeep never really shied away from the sudden media spotlight, this new look was, in all honesty, completely unfamiliar digs. The XJ-001 was, in essence, a compilation of gawdy pinstriping, glossy paint, chrome wheels, glistening adornements and go-fast goodies wed with a stubby car-like body that seemed oddly disproportionate to the wheelbase. In all fairness to the concept car, the only way I can find acceptance of it is to completely remove it, at least in my mind, from the name ‘Jeep’ altogether- an undertaking that I find nearly impossible to accomplish given the comical wheelbase and the telltale ‘Jeep’ badging that graces the B-pillar. On second thought, if that was a B-pillar it would match the windshields elevation, which it doesn’t. This odd rooflike section is barely higher than the dash, making it more of a sport bar. But it’s height being considerably shorter than the bucket seats, makes it’s existence an even bigger mystery than the Pinto-inspired sloped rear deck opening that trails it; a visual borrowing that predates the Ford Pinto by a year.

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The Jeep XJ-001 must have been a feast for the eyes as spectators stood in dazed bewilderment at the styling quirks of this strange prototype. The CJ that had just received side marker lights a year or so prior, had now bore offspring bearing large trapezoidal chrome-bezeled lights on the front corners to offset the gills placed conspicuously on the front fenders. The giant air intake scoop on the hood hinted at what power lurks beneath. While Jeep CJs were treated to the customary civility of a 134 cubic inch engine and the occasional 6 cylinder powerplant, the XJ-001 had a surgically-implanted 360 cid V8 right out of one of AMC’s fabled tire shredders which seemed almost inappropriate. With a uniquely contoured dash that cascaded downward into a custom console that housed the ignition switch, 4 speed shifter and even the radio, the XJ-001 found ways to distinguish itself from the pack of Detroit’s latest iron. Different? Sure, but not necessarily desirable.

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Although the 1970 Jeep XJ-001 was a staple of the auto show circuit throughout the year, it never rooted any significant interest, certainly not enough to encourage the powers-that-be at AMC to procede with production.7 Unfortunately, the solitary XJ-001 prototype was lost to a fire when the car carrier that transported it overturned after an appearance at the Texas State Fair. With it’s body made primarily of fiberglass and plastic, there was very little reminder left of the peculiar protoype that had once been. It seems as though, at least for the time, Jeep was set to continue being simply a Jeep and the role of being a car would be left up to those better suited at pulling it off. The XJ-001 was in many ways a precursor to the hybrid cars of today, or cross-overs, as they are commonly referred to. Designs where multiple functions join to find one form. In the end, while the combination of two great things can be good, the greatness in the individuality of each is beyond compare. Jeep is undeniable proof of that. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

“A Place for Everything & Everything in its Place”

1It sounds so simple, almost poetic. The most brilliant minds of our time have reiterated its importance and yet I find myself in seemingly constant denial of its very existence. I’m talking about organization. It’s the one and only thing that can transform you into the star of your own weekly program on the DIY Channel, instead of the unwilling focus of an episode of Hoarders. Yet I hopelessly still continue down life’s road with a cargo area brimming full with all of “necessities” that a Jeeper might find sudden need for. I believe it was Albert Einstein who once stated “Out of clutter, find simplicity”. Since he’s got me beat by more than a handful of IQ points, I’ll take those wise words, somewhat reluctantly, and try to apply them to my own personal situation in hopes of finding a better way.

In all honesty, my own organizational misfortune began innocently enough. A few years back, while preparing for a weekend wheeling trip, I decided that removing the rear jump seat in my YJ would free up some valuable interior room and make for much easier packing. Both of my sons had grown to the point where climbing into the back seat for a wheeling trip had become both physically impossible and socially unacceptable at the very same time. The vacated expanse of newfound cargo area was undeniably enticing- much like a day-old chocolate éclair on the kitchen counter when you’re expecting company. Sure, you could leave it out there but one single pastry could never satisfy more than one person. So you find yourself cramming the entire treat into your mouth hurriedly just as the doorbell rings. The back of my Wrangler quickly became home to every sort of disaster preparedness gear imaginable. Just like that, it had begun. Such catastrophes always start somewhere.

2Before concluding that my Jeep is a rolling refuse bin, I want to state that I really only carry the actual bare necessities. Although, when you drive an older Jeep, like me, that list of essentials can be considerable. There are the mandatory tool kit- pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and wrenches, in both standard and metric sizes based on Chrysler’s inability to commit to any set standard (combined with my own mechanical inability to do the same). Then there is the recovery gear, a virtual boat-load of straps, ropes, shackles, pulleys and gear to snatch ones four-wheeled soul from the grips of vehicular misfortune. Add to that the horde of specialty tools that seem to gain paramount importance when you’re broken down on the trail and losing daylight. Work lights, fuel pressure gauge, a trusty voltmeter, well-stocked electrical kit, a selection of clamps and hoses, u-joints, spare wire, etc. I failed to mention the plastic milk crate stocked with an array of motor oils, brake fluid, tranny fluid, penetrating oil and other essential potions.

With all the evidence provided above, I dare say that the only cargo I have in tow that is not absolutely vital to my vehicles overall preparedness is a small 8” x 10” metal storage case that serves as transport for my vast music collection that I have loaded on tiny and convenient flash drives. While this could be deemed by many as non-essential payload, the fact that I can carry the contents of hundreds of CD’s in the space of a tissue box stands as proof positive that I am not beyond help. And who doesn’t like some tunes as accompaniment for the droning of the mud terrains? So while the age-old adage ‘Less Is More’ may be true, I am decidedly at the point where any less would likely not be enough.

When it comes to organizing the rear cargo area of your Jeep, there are some extremely innovative and cool products on the market today that can help convert your version of chaos into a neat, orderly collection of tools and supplies that are easily accessible and always right where you left them. Drawers that glide smoothly on tracks with roller bearing slides; more than ample to house all your hand tools and bottles of essential fluids seems almost too good to be true. It could take some time to get used to such civility though, when you are accustomed to the other extreme. I remember the time that my can of PB Blaster got tipped over and its spray nozzle became depressed by a tumbling gear bag. As the cans smelly contents saturated my Spice interior carpeting, the noise created had me searching feverishly under the seats for the hissing serpent that had apparently become unwillingly trapped inside my Jeep; not thoroughly convinced that I really wanted to find it. I still don’t know where the lid to the can went.

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While solutions to the problem of cargo organization can be solved easily and in a relative hurry with a little online shopping at any number of retailers, the truth is that many of us choose to use our precious little funds for more imperative endeavors like lift kits, remote reservoir off-road shocks and providing meals to our offspring. With just a little money and some creativity, you can come to some pretty impressive storage solutions by scouring the aisles of your local home improvement superstore. Plastic caddies, multi-level shelves, tie downs and storage compartments can be cleverly combined to suit any need. Whether you prefer to trail ride, hunt, fly fish or just love to drive into the mountains to crash your expensive drone into really tall hardwoods, your cargo compartment can cater to your specific needs.

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Whatever cargo area organizer you devise, remember to make sure that you keep your own safety at the forefront of the design. Everything needs to be securely mounted, contained and restrained. In the event of a vehicle rollover, you don’t want a 30 pound box of wrenches tumbling around inside your Jeeps cab, much less any massive plywood tumbleweed. Take the time to anchor your creation to the floor and secure all of its contents well.

If you find the limited confines of your Jeeps interior to be too limited for the kind of organization chaos you have going on, you might consider a more sizable investment is in order. An overlanding-style trailer can be equipped to serve as a base station or kitchenette on camping excursions, a portable hunting stand or any variation in between. All with the convenient portability of going anywhere your Jeep can pull it. Not to mention, they look really cool and help to free-up that invaluable interior space you thought you would never see again.

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Admittedly, I have not yet fully committed myself to the task of organizing my cargo area… yet. But I am wholly convinced that I have a problem, which is often considered the first step in finding true healing. Maybe as a resolution for the upcoming New Year, I can come to terms with a plan to organize my gear and bring some much-needed harmony to my discord. If for no other reason, it would be nice to find the lid to my PB Blaster. OlllllllO

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Rugged Ridge’s TOP 10 Last Minute Gift Ideas…

1With barely a handful of days left until Christmas, we wanted to take a minute to drop a few hints for some cool last-minute gift ideas for that special Jeep enthusiast in your life. Time IS short so don’t delay another minute…Rugged Ridge is here help you show Santa how it’s done!

 

Great Gifts For LESS Than $50- (we call them affordable, not cheap)

        1. Off-Road Grab Handles – We’ve got awesome grab handles to equip that Jeep for any adventure. Front seat, rear seat and anywhere in-between, not to mention a bunch of colors to accent any rig.2
        2. Dash Multi-Mount – This easily-adaptable system puts your cellphone right where you can see it, whether you’re on the trail or just sitting in traffic. It’s a MUST for 2007-2018 Wrangler JK!3  
        3. Entry Guards – A little protection goes a long way, especially when you consider the bottom of your Jeeps door openings. They are kicked and scuffed just about every time the door opens which is hard on paint and even harder on the eyes. We offer a set of door entry guards for 2 and 4 door models that will protect and perfect the look of any Jeep.4 
        4. X-Clamps – Mounting lights, cameras or any other accessories is simplified to perfection with the trail-proven technology of our X-Clamp mounting system. These mounts can be rotated for any angle and are available to fit a variety of tubing diameters. Choose either Silver, Black or Textured finishes to accent any exterior.5
        5. Gifts For Under $100(For those whose names do NOT appear on the Naughty List)

        6. Aluminum Hood Catches – The ideal upgrade for any Wrangler JK, these latches eliminate the issues with hood flutter that plague even a factory fresh model. Well-built, stylishly styled and simple to install makes the perfect gift. Ask anyone who has them!!6
        7. Elite Hood Dress-Up Kit – A perfect complement to our Aluminum Hood Catches, we tooled all of the hood mounted components in high-quality aluminum giving them spectacular curb appeal on top of flawless function. Installation is a breeze, even in December.
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        9. LED Brake Light Ring – Turn that factory high-mounted brake light into a brilliant spectacle that can’t be ignored. With 96 powerful torch red LED’s mounted behind the spare tire, you can enjoy the safety benefits of being the center of attention.
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        11. Elite Pivotal Headlight Euro Guard – The only cast aluminum head light guard that can be mounted in a vertical, diagonal or horizontal position for a variety of visual accents. With three premium finishes to choose from, the possibilities are plenty.Gifts For Over $100(For those loved ones who rank very highly on the Nice List- or maybe even a Naughty one who could really use some encouragement?)
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          Gifts For Over $100 –(For those loved ones who rank very highly on the Nice List- or maybe even a Naughty one who could really use some encouragement?)

        13. Spartan Grille – Call it an attitude adjustment in a box. Nothing can turn a stock JK into an agitated and aggressive off-road beast as quickly as our Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille. The included easy-to-follow installation instructions makes this a simple and enjoyable upgrade for any do-it-yourselfer.
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        15. Spartan Bumpers – Rugged Ridge’s new line of Spartan Bumpers deliver the look and fit of high-end off-road bumpers but in a package that doesn’t forget about the budget. Just pick the style that suits your build and start making room under the tree! ( p.s. Bumpers will NOT fit in a traditional stocking)
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    There’s a little something for any Jeeper on your list AND there is just enough time to make any of these dreams a reality. We’re gonna keep making cool stuff for Jeeps so we’ll meet you back here next year. Maybe we can shoot for July or early August though?? Merry Christmas  OlllllllO

     
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Rugged Ridge introduces exterior armor with new Steel Body Armor Cladding for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK

Superior Lower Body Panel Protection Fights Against Corrosion and Rust

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the addition of its new Steel Body Armor Cladding for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK / JKU models to its line of exterior body armor products.

Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding adds extra protection and is engineered to fight off rust and corrosion.  Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding adds extra protection and is engineered to fight off rust and corrosion.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Designed with the off-road Jeep enthusiast in mind, new Steel Body Armor Cladding is built from heavy duty three millimeter thick steel plate to provide a high level of protection to vulnerable rocker panels, an area commonly damaged in even mild off-road environments. The Steel Body Armor Claddings sectional construction for a tighter fit and easier installation, with only slight drilling required and can be used with OE or aftermarket flares, as well as Rugged Ridge Armor Fenders.

Each section of armor cladding is treated to a durable black powder coat to guard it from rust, corrosion and any threats the trail may pose; providing long-lasting protection despite severe conditions. Stainless button-head hardware attaches the armor securely to the body and gives the Jeep for a quick install. 

“We engineered the new Steel Body Cladding to offer extrended protection and functionality to the armor,” states Eric Russell, Product Engineer at Omix-ADA/Rugged Ridge. “Obviously, not everyone is going to go wheeling in their JK  but we want to provide extra protection just incase.”

The Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding is backed by an industry leading five-year limited warranty and is available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts & accessories retailers nationwide with an MSRP of $266.99 for the JK 2-door and $333.99 for the JKU 4-door.

For more information about the new Steel Body Armor Cladding or and of Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an approved retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description MSRP
11615.10 Steel Body Armor Cladding; 07-17 JKU 4-Door $333.99
11615.11 Steel Body Armor Cladding; 07-17 JK 2-Door $266.99

“Shoppin’ for Your Baby Some New Shoes”

1When buying new tires for any car, or at least one that you cherish, that’s one of those expressions that has always seemed an appropriate fit. I guess it’s because tires are so important to the looks of your vehicle, not to mention the effects they can have on handling and overall enjoyment. If your beloved human offspring were to need some gym shoes for school and you set out to the store with your heart set on a pair of Dingo boots, the repercussions for your misguided actions would be very real. Your child would no doubt be the last one picked for kickball, they would no longer find shorts as a logical clothing choice and their standings on the ever-important popularity scale would plummet. Buying tires for your Jeep is not much different.

Before you set out to buy your babies new shoes, you have to ask yourself a few questions so that you are more likely to arrive with a suitable answer. What is it that you use your Jeep for? Is it simply a people- hauler used to shuttle family members to lacrosse practice and run errands around town with no plans to drive off the paved roads? If so, a traditional highway or all-season tire might be the best option. Or is it the look of the tire that is of more concern to you? Can you have both?

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Highway tires are best-signified by a narrow linear tread design that specializes in channeling water away from the tires patch of contact with the road. Features that are virtually exclusive to these highway tires, such as long tread life and refined car-like handling, slowly fade as you graduate to the more off-road enabled tires. While these highway/ all-season tires will give your Jeep a nice, smooth ride on the highway and around town, they are somewhat ill-equipped for trail duty. If your Jeep sees much more than an occasional level dirt road or gravel driveway, you should probably consider something a bit more unrefined.

If your Jeep qualifies as one that is more-than-likely to be taken off the beaten path, your tire shopping experience should begin with the abundance of offerings that tire manufacturers have developed for the light truck market segment. Jeeps of present day generally come from the factory with a more aggressive breed of tire; one that is commonly referred to as an ‘All-terrain’ in that it has a much less-linear tread pattern; opting for a deeper grooved channel design intended to garner traction on surfaces other than asphalt. If the tires that came on your Jeep were all that you hoped they could be then consider that to be a safe starting point and expand your search from there.

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All-terrain tires often incorporate a tread design that extends over onto the face of the sidewall, commonly known as ‘side bite’, to give the tire lateral traction on unstable terrain. All-terrains do a commendable job on a wide variety of surfaces and only find their limits when exposed to the muddy slick stuff, where they are swiftly turned into drag slicks that spin wildly with reckless abandon. While the All-Terrain tire represent a really good compromise between street-friendly road manners and off-road prowess, it’s important to note that their capability relies strongly on the level of air pressure in the tire. In off-road conditions, reducing a tires air pressure is a true no brainer. You just push in on the valve stem, right?

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It’s safe to say that an off-road tire should never be inflated to manufacturer’s specifications EXCEPT when it is being driven on the road. The benefits of airing-down a rig’s tires when off-roading is almost beyond compare. An obstacle that seems insurmountable quickly becomes easy work when proper air pressure is applied. The tire gains massive amounts of traction and is less prone to punctures, even when the tire is only reduced to 20 psi. Many hardcore off-road guys will regularly drop air pressures well into the single digits, while paying due attention to maintaining the integrity of the tires bead and its seal to the rim. Failure to do so will have you wrestling yourself into a sweaty tizzy with a grimy black rubber monster determined to ruin your day.

5While the prospect of reducing air pressure is attractive and brutally simple, the subsequent need to re-inflate the tires to their proper pressures before returning to the roadway is one that proves troublesome to many. While highly-efficient onboard air systems are expensive, they are not a mandatory implement in order to restore adequate driving pressures on the trail. Small 12 volt air compressors can be had online for well under $100 and offer ample output to get your tires back to a safe operating level until a full-fledged compressor can be located. Sure, it may take you a half-hour to get re-inflated, but that’s time you easily gained while on the trail by not getting stuck on every rock and ledge. Time you can use to ascend to the highest available position, with arm extended upward, in an attempt to gain cellphone coverage. It’s really fun and you should try it.

The final part to this tire option puzzle is the loud & proud mud-terrain. Much like its all-terrain counterparts, the mud terrain foregoes civil street tendencies in favor of a broad, open tread style meant to grip and grapple over the harshest of landscapes. Tire technology has advanced so drastically over the past 10+ years that modern mud terrains are all but equal to most all terrains in terms of on-road sensibilities. They do create a greater amount of noise when on pavement, are more prone to troublesome wear patterns due to faulty suspension components but are otherwise worthy candidates for a semi-dedicated trail rig.

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While their overly-aggressive tread characteristics make them a resoundingly bad choice for a daily- driven Jeep, mud terrains are still often the tire of choice for avid Jeep enthusiasts. I think that might be largely due to the fact that they just look cool! If Jeepers were extremely concerned with how many miles their tires get in a lifespan, or how many miles to the gallon they average around town, they just wouldn’t drive a Jeep to begin with. Driving a Jeep is all about the journey so I can easily justify having a tire that sings loudly as the miles go rolling by. I much prefer the “whirring” sound of a mud terrain spinning on the asphalt to the sound of a street tire spinning hopelessly in the mud. When it comes to tires, it’s always good to be a little biased. OlllllllO

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LOCKERS…Understanding the Ins & Outs of Maintaining Traction through Modern Mechanical Wizardry

1I wonder how many countless middle schoolers have been subjected to the inhumane pre-teen ritual of being stuffed into a cramped school locker? While I have never personally experienced it myself, I’m sure that the mere mention of the word “locker” to anyone who has been, is enough to cause one to instantly forget their locker combination and quite possibly to lose partial control of their bodily functions. How on earth are you supposed to remember if you go counter-clockwise past ‘32’ twice before stopping on ‘17’ when you’re in constant and profound fear of becoming the defenseless victim of a wedgie; or, worse yet, having your lockers interior exposed to those who don’t share your same fondness for fuzzy animated movie characters or cheesy boy bands?

Fortunately, the word ‘lockers’ has an entirely different and less-emotional connotation to the off-road Jeep enthusiast. “Lockers” is short slang for a locking differential- the means by which the men are separated from the boys when the tires hit the trail.

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Most vehicles, including many Jeeps, leave the factory with an “open” style differential. What this means is that the rotation of the driveshaft is transferred through a set of gears and distributed to two separate axle shafts, each turning its own driven wheel. Since the two axle shafts are not actually connected together through any rigid means, they are able to rotate at different speeds independent of each other. While this concept is splendid for driving on the open road and around town, it loses its luster in off-road situations where one wheel may lose traction and will begin to spin wildly. The other wheel, despite having sufficient traction, might just sit there and do nothing while all of the engines torque is applied to the wheel with no traction. It’s very much like watching an innocent and unknowing bird fly headlong into a glass window again and again. After several minutes, there has been lots of motion, vast amounts of spent energy but no real progress. This is a condition that off-road enthusiasts commonly refer to as “stuck”.

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“Lockers”, or locking differentials, essentially drive both wheels with constant and equal torque, regardless of traction, making it much more difficult to achieve the status of stuck, as is common in an open differential-equipped rig. While the perceived invincibility found in driving off road with lockers is quite attractive, it can also be accompanied by a whole new set of drawbacks. Applying unrelenting torque to a tire that is hopelessly wedged up in a rock pile will eventually find a way to turn itself loose despite the tires resistance. This newfound and forced freedom is brought on by the sudden failure of whatever component lacked the most in the integrity department. If you’re lucky, it’s just a u-joint. More than likely , such a calamity will befall a more expensive component. And one that is significantly harder to repair on trail side, like an axle shaft or, heavens forbid, a costly CV driveshaft. Even at such high cost, Lockers ARE the way to go if you like to wheel off-road.

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Those who are blessed with the ability to be free-thinkers may instinctively suggest that we just build ALL Jeeps, or cars for that matter, with locking differentials and send those open differentials down the road, the way of the Dodo bird and full-service gas stations. After all, nobody really wants to get stuck, do they? Certainly not any number of my personal friends who I can recall having gotten their Jeeps stuck in their own back yard while doing something as simple as hauling furniture or flexing their macho manly side by attempting to persuade a shrub from its earthen nest by brute force. Nothing is quite as masculine as winching your Jeep out of a muddy pit that used to be your yard while using a kid’s swing set as an anchor point.

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The bottom line is that all of the traction benefits offered by a locked differential are overshadowed by their negative on-road manners. Since very few roadways are completely 100% straight, the need to turn the steering wheel occasionally is very real and turns the prospect of locked differentials into a nightmarish ordeal; similar to the horrors of getting stuck in your own yard. Since the opposing wheels are essentially “locked” together inside the differential, going around a corner becomes a nerve-grinding experience.

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When you steer a vehicle through a corner, the wheel positioned on the inside of the turn has a shorter distance to travel while the outside wheel has a longer distance to negotiate. This conflict in rotational energy between the inside and outside wheel manifests itself in a vehicle that simply isn’t happy turning at speed anymore; never mind the larger diameter tires and pavement-hating tread. In fact, a lot of this excess energy in the turns will be absorbed into your driveline and by your tires tread, resulting in reduced fuel economy, accelerated tire wear and a downright poor overall attitude. Three things that Jeeps can’t afford to compromise on unless there are substantial benefits to be gained. Benefits like x-ray vision or George Clooney-like good looks would be good contenders.

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Any time the left is so far removed from the right, it’s good to know that an accord can be struck and a happy middle ground established. Ground where we can enjoy the off-road benefits of locking differentials combined with the street-friendly mannerisms of an open differential. Such an accord can be found in a selectable locker, a differential whose locking abilities can be turned off or on with the simple flick of a switch, the pull of a lever or by reciting a short mystical chant. Such systems would include an ARB Air Locker, Eaton E-Locker or a cable-actuated OX Locker.

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While the selectable locker is a bit more expensive that most other options, it’s hard to identify any negatives to support an argument that they are anything but worth the price you’ll pay. Jeep has utilized a selectable locker system in their Rubicon models since the early 2000’s and it has quickly become a consumer favorite for its expanded level of capability. So much so that you’ll find Rubicon stickers plastered across the hoods of Cherokees, YJ Wranglers, and even an occasional Grand Cherokee. While obviously the decal doesn’t make any Jeep a Rubicon, what does make the Rubicon stand out can be largely attributed to its locking differentials, front and rear. Just try to comprise a similar locking differential system in a base model Wrangler and you will concede that the Rubicon package is a smart way to go. Trust me… a lot can be said for being able to drive out of your own back yard and it’s hard to put a price on shame. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

 

In Search of the Legendary Arctic Top

1Ever since I was a little kid, I have been fascinated with the unknown. If there was a TV show on about ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster or sasquatches, I was surely watching it! Sure, my sleeping habits were probably hampered as a result but I couldn’t help myself and at that age, sleeping was over-rated anyway. There was just something mysteriously captivating about such lore. I craved to view the evidence, however darkly lit or grainy it might appear, and then make a decision for myself. I wouldn’t even say that I was skeptical. Deep down I wanted to believe, I just wanted to see for myself. I remember the first time I saw the choppy 8mm video footage of what appears to be a Bigfoot walking across a partially open field that looked like it was in the process of being clear-cut. My heart skipped a beat! Heck, the creature even turned his head toward the camera mid-stride as if he knew he was being taped. I was convinced this thing was real, even if there had been an obvious zipper seam going up the front of the suit. I was a whole-hearted believer!

While hunting for Yetis in the Pacific Northwest and setting traps for the chupacabra have little, if anything, to do with Jeeps; there is an element of Jeeps colorful history that provides me the same sort of puzzling curiosity- the question of the first or original Jeep hardtop. While Jeep hardtops are as commonplace today as a traffic jam, this was not always the case. It’s a tall order to substantiate exactly when they came into existence.

I think it’s a fairly safe bet that a rigid, removable hard top was not anything that the factory concerned themselves with until the civilian Jeep, or CJ as they were known, had made its way to the farms and roadways of America. In fact, it’s not very easy to find any photographic evidence of a hard top mounted on an early model military Jeep at all, at least not one captured in black & white film as the period would dictate. And then you find one…

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Commonly, when you do find them, the tops depicted are obvious works of a craftsman skilled in some form of engineering outside the realm of the automobile. They are often contrived of wood, aluminum or some other building material pliable enough to be scabbed to a Jeep tub. They may have windows OR they may not. If so equipped, they will not likely be windows of a uniform size. I guess that’s why the picture above is so intriguing to me. It’s obviously a WWII-era Jeep and, based on the snow-covered banks in the background and the makeshift heat-capturing canopy covering the lap of the driver in the foreground, someone has made an exerted effort to devise a hardtop to keep the warm in and the cold out. And it looks like it belongs on the Jeep and not fitted with wheels and pulled behind your station wagon.

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By the late 1940’s and early 50’s, there were any number of companies that had ventured into the uncharted waters of Jeep hardtops and offered their wares to the civilian CJ drivers en mass. Sears & Roebuck, Koenig, Metro, Willys New England, Carson and JC Whitney, just to name a few and it’s fair to say that these companies were pretty good at what they did. Each had their own distinct designs and features and possessed an existence that can be well-documented through photos from the day. Again, largely captured in color film that would lead me to believe that they were existing comfortably in the 1950’s when color film had become affordable enough for common use. So, is it even possible to tell who may have been the first to craft and even manufacture hardtop for the Jeep?

In early 1946, surplus Jeeps that were left over from the war were treated to a custom “winterizing” by the construction of a crude sheet metal cab that was pop-riveted to the body tub as a means of separating the Jeeps driver from the harsh winter elements. The work was performed by Japanese citizens at the Showa Army Air Base in Japan under the watchful eye of U.S. military personnel using leftover airplane materials and a calloused disregard for aerodynamics. While this could possibly be the first documented hard top for a Jeep, it is certainly not of the “removable” variety and, by way of its semi-permanent method of install, is more likely a necessity than an accessory that can be removed at will like we are accustomed to today.

Photo Credit: Historic Images

Photo Credit: Historic Images

7So, despite the really cool black & white pictures of the Jeeps with suspected early prototype hard tops, I would have to concede that the first actual removable hard top could probably be credited to an aftermarket company and offered for sale only pages away from grandma’s girdle and pop’s thermal underwear. However disappointing that might seem, I’m gonna keep my chin up and keep looking until I know the truth. Besides, I’m pretty sure I saw a sasquatch cresting the snowy bank in the background behind one of those Jeeps. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Behold…The Antidote for Black Friday Fever!!!

While I am happily still driving well into winter with no doors on the trusty Jeep, we find ourselves on the brink of yet another Thanksgiving and the supposed-official start of the holiday season. It seems like the Black Friday commercials start airing before the kids are even back from trick-or-treating., or is it just me? The arctic winter air plays tricks on my minds sometimes.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we could, just for once, celebrate Thanksgiving without the stress and strain of the upcoming Christmas shopping season hanging over our heads? Wouldn’t that third plate of turkey and dressing taste a whole lot better if Aunt Edna wasn’t out in the car revving the engine with her lap covered with a blanket of sales circulars?

The bottom line is that retailers treasure our shopping dollars much more than they value our own personal well-being. And who can really blame them when we are all mostly guilty of falling in line in one way or another; by our refusal to pay more than the next guy for anything, even at the cost of our seasonal sanctity. I think Cyber Monday is the better shopping choice, hands down. Unless you can wait until the week after, that is.

But just because we can’t beat them, doesn’t mean that we should have to join them. There is more than a handful of really cool gifts to get that Jeep guy or girl in your life, even if they’re the kind of person that already has their Jeep pretty-well decked out. Not to mention, they won’t break the bank. They will have you enjoying your Friday after turkey day sitting on the sofa watching football or maybe one of those horrid Christmas specials. You know the one with that guy that sings that song? Yeah, that one! Sure, it will likely put you right to sleep but it’s still easily better than fighting the crowds at the mall. So here goes…

  1. 2Portable Tire Inflator – There are any number of different brands and models available and the prices are great, often as low as $30. They usually run on 12 volts DC from your cars power port but many have adapters that will let them plug into a traditional AC outlet in your garage, as well. They tend to be a little slower than a full-size air compressor but there is a lot that can be said about not having to feed quarters into the machine at the filling station while you try to keep the cursed air hose from constantly retracting.
  2. 3Rechargeable Flashlight – I believe it is Newton’s Fourth Law of Probability that states if something is going to go wrong, it will usually happen at night or, at the very least, in some area that is completely devoid of daylight. Sure, most folks have a handy flashlight built right into their fancy cellphones but try illuminating the VIN number on your broken down car to the roadside assistance operator while you talk on that same phone and you will surely learn what true frustration is all about. It’s great to always have a working flashlight at hand and even better when you don’t have to concern yourself with how old the batteries are or if they are encrusted in a merry layer of green corrosion. You can check it out at http://www.ruggedridge.com/flashlight-rechargable-700lux-with-rugged-ridge-crush-bezel-15104-44.html
  3. Dash Cam – It should come as no surprise to anyone that we live in an electronic age. The days of being able to act like a complete nitwit one day and start the next day with a clean slate are all but gone. Be sure 4to use such technology to your greatest advantage to help offset the obvious disadvantages. Equipping your car with an easy-to-use and affordable dash camera is a great way to protect yourself from the threats of road rage and to document actual events, as they occurred, in the case of an auto accident. Dash Cams can be had for well-under a hundred dollars that have decent picture resolution and adequate memory capacity. Do a little bit of homework before you commit to a purchase to make sure you get the best bang for your bucks. You don’t want to be left with a video so grainy that you suddenly end up the prime suspect in a chain of local convenience store robberies.
  4. 5The Power Cup– Cell phones, radar detectors, tablets, GPS devices, DVD players all have a few things in common- they all find home in your car and they all use power. Unfortunately, most vehicles only come with a pair of power ports. Who has time to play leap-frog with charging cables while they are driving? The Power Cup plugs into one of your vehicles power outlets and it will instantly improve your charging game by giving you two power outlets AND two additional USB ports. Best of all, it stores securely in your vehicles cup holder for easy access. This Christmas, maybe it’s time for you to give the gift of empowerment? You can get the lowdown by looking at http://www.ruggedridge.com/power-cup-2-x-usb-plus-2-x-accessory-ports-universal-15101-03.html
  5. 6Tire Pressure Gauge– You know those old tire gauges that have a doo-hicky that pops out and shows you the reading on a flimsy square stick of plastic? Well, it turns out that such lame “pop-out” technology doesn’t always tell you your turkey is properly cooked either. The fact that my insurance agent hands them out like they’re candy doesn’t bode well for their credibility either. I do think they make a great gizmo for scratching an itchy inner ear but for actually checking tire pressure? Not so much. Every car guy / girl needs access to a good tire pressure gauge, especially when it comes to safely maintaining oversized off-road tires. Proper tire inflation is vital to safe on-road manners while preserving the life of your tires tread. Darn thing will even fit in a stocking in place of that coal lump!
  6. 7Full Auto Detail– Generally speaking, Jeeps are NOT usually known for being clean vehicles. While there are many Jeeps on the road that pride themselves on shining like a new diamond, others are lucky to see water coming from something other than the ground or the sky. In any case, nobody longs to brave the frigid temperatures of winter to wash their own car, much less apply a coat of wax. Fortunately, there are droves of auto detailers who are equipped to do just that and are looking for somebody to do it for. In many cases, they will even come out to where the car is and perform their services in your driveway or in the parking lot at work. You can search Mobile Auto Detailing online and look for reviews on crowd-sourced apps like Yelp! to find reputable detailers in your area. Giving that special Jeeper in your life a gift certificate for a wash and detail is sure to put a smile on their face, not to mention the thrill they will have when they find out what color paint hides under all that dirt.
  7. Radio Controlled Jeep Rock Crawler– Maybe the Jeep enthusiast in your life has been extra-good this year or maybe you’re just looking for a great way to get them out of the house- to “blow the stink off” as my mom always said. Who wouldn’t want to go exploring in their very own 1/10-scale radio-controlled Jeep? We’re not talking about your typical run-of-the-mill boring street action where the smallest of pebbles brings the fun to a halt. No, we’re talking about high ground clearance monsters with fully working suspension systems and gigantic knobby tires meant to climb ridiculous rock ledges and come back for a seconds. For as little as a hundred bucks, you too can experience the kind of extreme off-roading that monthly car payments normally prohibit. Face it, acting your age is one of the worst resolutions ever.8

So with a few gift ideas like these working in your favor, you can certainly take the time to enjoy Thanksgiving, as well as the Friday after, as a time of rest, relaxation; maybe even an attempt at recovery from whatever feast and festivities you may have endured. It’s totally acceptable to refrain from Christmas preparations until the last cold turkey sandwich has been served. Unless Black Friday shopping is indeed your thing, in which case, we wish you godspeed as you go forth. May your long list compounded by the even longer lines fail in shortening your fuse. And don’t forget where you parked. OlllllllO

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An Enlightened Peek into Life in Pre-Jeep America

It’s hard for me to imagine life before Jeeps were actually a thing. The fact that the Jeep has been around, in one form or another, for some 75+ years means that very few people were actually alive before the Jeep existed and those that were are likely occupied with recounting their numerous three mile treks to school uphill both ways.

To find a glimpse into such a Jeep-less society, I drew upon an age-old periodical called The Automobile that was published in the early 20th century and served as a newsletter, of sorts, for those in the automotive trade, whether at the manufacturer, dealer or aftermarket level. Most of these excerpts were taken from issues from 1916 to 1917; a time one hundred years in our past but seemingly separated by eons from where we are today.

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2.0It is interesting to note how much vehicles were considered to be more of a luxury in those days than in comparison to the usual perspective today, where most cannot imagine functioning without at least one car at our disposal. One article seemed to boast that the automotive population of Oregon had grown substantially to the pinnacle of 1 car for every 25 residents.

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This small editorial effectively details the truth that there is not a plausible future to speak of for automotive accessories. The writer goes on to describe what is presumed to be a power windows option, but his description has a dark undertone as though he was describing the onset of the apocalypse. To believe at such an early stage that we had truly already reached the outer limits of what a vehicle should be equipped with from the factory is laughable. What about seat warmers, cassette tape players with auto reverse, map lights…heck, we hadn’t even developed a means for turn signals on any widespread basis yet! I feel that maybe the author of this beauty must have had a large stake in the horse drawn carriage industry and saw the possibility of further niceties as a direct attack on his waning livelihood.

 

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You can rest assured that, when the time had come to introduce such a concept as turn signals to the masses, you had better make it relatable. Preferably, it needs to be just like hanging your hand out the window, regardless of the cost. I can’t imagine why the “closed car” version would cost 50 cents more. Wouldn’t the open car Handy Signal come with a glove?

 

 

The early 1900’s were undoubtedly a simpler time. Despite being smack-dab in the middle of the First World War, consumers had the time to write in to the editor and voice their concerns over such atrocities as rattling car fenders and to shed some much needed light on such social injustices as the Ford Motor Company’s practice of only hiring those who don’t have jobs.

6It seems as though, with Jeep not being in the publics scope of consciousness as of yet, many struggled with the notion of what exactly to do with their spare tires. It would be a span of some 25 years until the appearance of a small wheelbase four wheel drive vehicle would set the record straight and answer defiantly the eternal question of where to stick those spares tires. It is now entirely acceptable to leave your spare out for everyone to see. There is no shame in such nor is there any discernible “disfigurement to the fine body lines”, as is suggested.

 

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The early nineteen hundreds were a time of monumental innovation in the auto industry. While the task of finding a nestling place for the spare seemed overwhelming to many, manufacturers diverted their creative energies towards developing mechanical marvels unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Fan Fire Spark Plugs featured tiny fan blades attached that spin to help cool the electrode. I was unable to locate any advertisements for a fan blades extraction tool that inserts into the spark plug hole but certainly one must have existed around this same time period.

 

Who can possibly refuse the undeniable charm of a road car that can be greased and lubricated from one central location conveniently accessed from the driver’s seat? Well, get your funds together because the Monitor Lubricating Co. of Philadelphia is making this dream a reality with the ingenious new Monitor Lubricator. I struggle to find ample reasons why this never took off…

Of all the gadgets and gizmos that promised to revolutionize motoring as we know it, a few genuine advances in thinking were realized during this period. Although they seem somewhat humorous in their honesty, it’s really incredible to see that our society has a keen knack for recognizing when things are not as they could be and work tirelessly towards that end. It seems fitting that a guy who is banished to the “oil pit” of that day would be fundamentally dedicated to finding a better way to service cars. On a side note, the fact that ‘two cranes’ are referenced in passing leads me to believe that hoisting cars up and on to the precarious stands may have been the reason behind customers never being allowed in the shop, a rule that often stands even to this day.

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Even the art of routine maintenance on cars was in its infancy. It took no time for someone to clue in that pouring dirt into your engine is a no-no. If only we had means of filtering air…like in a vacuum cleaner.

 

 

 

Of all the fascinating and curious things that history has to show us, there is always that one thing that defies reasonable explanation. Case in point, you decide that, after much scrutiny, your motor car is much better being stored in a state where the tires are not in contact with the ground as the oil is sure to degrade the rubber tires and thus, make their designed speed rating somewhat questionable. What do you do, you ask? Why, you devise a simple jack contraption to hoist the tire off the ground using simple leverage and you call it… Trump Jack. OlllllllO

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November 2017 Monthly Update

Elite Aluminum Fuel Cap

Add a individual touch to your Jeep with our Elite Aluminum Fuel Cap. Available in a variety of different finishes that will match any style you are going for from black to black with brushed accents. Attractive styling that the Elite line is known for to outfit your Jeep.

Part Number Description Price
11229.10 Elite Aluminum Fuel Cap, Black, 01-18 Jeep Wrangler TJ/JK $66.99
11229.11 Elite Aluminum Fuel Cap, Brushed, 01-18 Jeep Wrangler TJ/JK $66.99

Spare Tire Delete Kit

Remove extra weight from your Jeep while adding attractive styling to your Jeep with our Rugged Ridge Spare Tire Delete Kit. Designed to give you greater rear visibility and departure angles you were never able to see before. Features a license plate and third brake light relocation bracket to complete the package.

Part Number Description Price
11586.10 Spare Tire Delete Plate, 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK $66.99
11586.11 Spare Tire Delete Kit, 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK $119.99